From collecting minerals and gems to being inspired by pirates.

After a year in which she has taken part in the Growing Talent showcase at Goldsmiths Hall and got her work stocked in iconic Italian retailer Luisa Via Roma, the Serbian-born and London-based Milena Kovanovic is truly emerging as a future star of jewellery design.

“Inspiration can come from anywhere,” she says. “And there’s certainly no shortage of it. I’m very visual and take a lot of photographs of things that catch my eye, especially focusing on the details. Sometimes it can be from something I’ve read or an exhibition I’ve seen.”


She confesses to being a collector of pretty much everything from books to gems to minerals and any other curiosities that catch her wandering, questioning eye.

And it all gets translated into her collections, the latest of which is Ursula’s Hoard, a cache of opulent golds heavy with bright gems, all inspired by the theme that they are recovered from a shipwreck, “probably a pirate’s”.

Such decadent fancy goes against the grain. While there are moods for the dark and gothic or the monochrome and spare in the world of designer jewellery at the moment, Milena bucks the trend, instead igniting a technicolour palette of deep and bright gem shades that tap into a richer, more historical vein.

“I love colour and it is something that we all have an affinity with and I love gemstones, which come in every shade imaginable and are the perfect material to showcase this.”

Like a few other designers in this year’s Hot 100 she came to jewellery from a circuitous route but says destiny played a part. “I came across jewellery design whilst doing my art and design foundation course, really enjoyed working in metal and decided I’d apply to the degree course after my tutor convinced me I’d be perfect for it. It must have been fate as I used to make jewellery as a teenager and sell it at Greenwich market to earn some extra cash, though I never considered it as a career at the time.”

Her future is very specifically focused on growth now and she says she is concentrating on growing her stockist list both in the UK and abroad, meanwhile raising her profile in all areas. With such colour you can bet she will be catching plenty of magpie eyes over the next year.

Milena Kovanovic was selected as NexGem in the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2013 in association with The Company of Master Jewellers. To read the digital edition of the book online, click here.